Disappearing sunflowers

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My mother has been dead for six
weeks now.  I think of her often.  How is she and has she found
out for sure what she once believed and I long doubted, that there is a place
out there somewhere where she can finally be at rest? 
It’s a curious confusion because
although I operate on the belief that my mother is now no more, she lives on in
my imagination and memory and in some strange way she grows bigger on
re-remembering. 
One of my daughters intends to
write a short biography of my mother as part of a university assignment.  She tells me she plans to write from the
perspective of contested truths about my mother.  The differences between the ways my mother
represented herself and the perspectives of others who knew her. 
My mother the saint, as distinct
from my mother the manipulative scheming – I went to say ‘bitch’ but that seems
too harsh by far.  Not my view, never my
view.  Manipulative yes, but always as a function
of my mother’s impotence.  Her inability to ask
directly out of a belief that she should somehow do without. 
I put up a picture of sunflowers on
my Facebook page three weeks ago. 
Glorious, upright, full faced sunflowers.  
They are now ready for the compost bin, sad and dishevelled, an
embarrassment in a vase.
  
They put me in
mind of my mother’s body before she died and the direction in which my own body now heads. 
I check my hands from time to time
for signs of ageing, the tell tale liver spots, big brown freckles alongside the
bulging veins on my otherwise pink fingers. 
The rings on my fingers remain the
same.  They scarcely age, though the
wedding ring I first wore nearly 37 years ago is beginning to thin out on one
side. 
A friend, now in company with my
mother out there somewhere, made this ring for me.  He cast it in gold and shaped the image of a
man on one side reaching out one hand to a woman on the other.  The man is bigger than the woman.  His shoulders stand upright, the highest
point of the ring’s texture, while the woman, who tends to sit on the inside of
my hand, is much flatter. 
I wear my ring this way, with the
man visible, the woman underneath, not consciously out of any symbolic view, but out of aesthetics and comfort.  If I try to
put both figures on top and in full view they look indistinguishable and the
bulky man rubs against the sides on my eternity ring on my middle finger, or if
I push it against my little finger with the man it feels lumpy. 

I completed one of those inane
tests you find on Facebook the other day, one which tells you after you have answered a
series of multiple choice questions around your preferences, the type of person you should avoid. 
Turns out the person I should most avoid
is a comedian.  The person who spends his
time cracking jokes.  The person with whom
I can never be serious. 
Like all these quizzes there’s a
grain of truth here perhaps, though in such an absolute way as to render it almost
meaningless.  
Still it set me
thinking. 

I had thought the person I might most
seek to avoid is a person like me, a person who talks a lot, who might tend
to dominate a conversation, a person who wants to be seen and heard, unlike the
woman on my wedding ring, who hides underneath and brushes up against the soft padding
of my hand.
Sometimes she rubs against hard objects out there in the world, this woman who wears away into a thin
semblance of herself.  This woman who
disappears.  
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7 Comments on Disappearing sunflowers

  1. Kirk
    September 27, 2014 at 6:46 pm (3 years ago)

    I admire the honesty in your posts. I wish I could be an honest a writer as you.

    Reply
  2. who
    September 27, 2014 at 8:34 pm (3 years ago)

    I get the impression that you struggle with your beliefs in regards to the spiritual side of life, but I think most of your bitterness stems for the lies you were taught to believe by men of organized religion

    We all have the freedom and freewill to worship and religiously believe in God or a spiritual side of life in any way each of us as individuals see fit, including only believing in our human experience with the physical world

    If you wish you did know the truth, for yourself, the only way to prove what I am speaking of (that I know of anyway) is keep some honest journals to give to your children, and hopefully you can convince them to do the same and if it continues through for several generations, by the fourth or fifth I promise you they (you) will know what I say is true

    the spirit of your mother, which does have a tangible physical existence did NOT cease to exist. There are aspects of genetics which humane beings do not understand despite the ridiculous false claims newspapers report

    Your mother's spirit physically lives, she did however have to choose a new place, she has moved into a new house. She moved out of her parents house and moved in with another spiritual existence.

    They together now share a house, that has is where your mother and father have chosen to dwell, it is YOU

    And you have also left their house (your parents house) and decided to share a new house with another spiritual existence, you left their house and moved in with your husband to a new house, you and your husband now live in the house of your daughters

    It doesn't feel like that because you only know the long time spent in your parents house, it's the majority of the time of life you recognize, but I promise you it isn't a small event this move

    and if you think hard, you will remember the intense moment you left, and to use the biblical term "went" with your husband to this new house

    and if you pass down honest journals through the generations, you will recognize yourself as a living being long after the house you lived in when you originally began writing, is no longer around

    often authors whom write to record the truth, (ie not grammarians nor journalists) but writers like you Elisabeth, are capable of recognizing yourself, which others will not typically be able to experience that "Oh! Aha!" until several generations and only after it being "proved" which requires "knowing" being important enough to more than one generation, as it takes many (sometimes up to ten or twelve) dedicated to keeping the practice if honest journalism, passed down, alive

    Reply
  3. Anthony Duce
    September 27, 2014 at 11:10 pm (3 years ago)

    Totally enjoyed this writing, as I always do.. So relatable. Of course often the man is the one who will be the first to disappear…

    Reply
  4. Jim Murdoch
    September 28, 2014 at 4:28 am (3 years ago)

    I’ve never been a ring person. I bought my first wife an engagement ring and a wedding band; I got a typewriter. Says everything. Carrie hasn’t worn her wedding band in years and it was probably years before I even noticed. Although in some respects I am an old-fashioned kind of guy I’ve never like the whole ownership aspect of the wedding ring; I hate even more the South Asian bindi—why not just brand them and be done with it? Carrie and I’ve been married for some seventeen years—I forget how long but it’s something like that—but we only got married to keep her in the country; it was a practical decision. To my mind people stay together because they want to and that’s it. Once being married meant something. Nowadays finding someone who’s been married for thirty-seven years is unusual and I suspect it will become rarer and rarer. For a while Carrie did wear a ring. I don’t think we bought it. Maybe we did. I can’t remember. I didn’t want one.

    What is it about me and memory? Why don’t I hang onto stuff? Neither my mother nor my father grew “bigger on re-remembering”. They’d both been shrinking in my mind for years. I’m not sure when that started—because I can’t remember in which order these events took place—but as far as my dad went it will’ve been either when he had his heart attack (Christ, the old man’s human!) or when he spilled the paint in the hall and I found him on the floor in tears (Christ, the old man’s human!). Anyway from about the age of twelve. And over the years the walls came tumbling down until not a stone was left on a stone.

    I mostly avoid those tests on Facebook. They’re pretty much a waste of time and I can think of more interesting ways to waste my time although why anyone who’s got fewer years left to live than they’ve already lived would want to waste a minute more I’ve no idea. From what I know of comedians I would imagine most of them wouldn’t be great company for any length of time. I certainly wouldn’t want to live with another me. Christ knows how my wife puts up with me. Part of it will be to do with the fact that I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t care if she wears a wedding ring or not. Carrie did a test online a few days ago. It was: How long have you been married? She asked me what I thought the answer was. I said, “Forty-five years.” I was spot on.

    Reply
  5. Anonymous
    October 2, 2014 at 10:47 am (3 years ago)

    Sorry I don't have a sage comment to make re the essence of your post, but I am fascinated by your wedding ring. Did you or your husband design it or did the jeweller create an original design for you?
    However, I am also on a journey of discerning just what theological truths apply following my own experience of my husband's death.
    Funny how you can hold a belief as truth until you are faced with its reality.
    Karen C

    Reply
  6. Elizabeth
    October 13, 2014 at 4:58 am (3 years ago)

    I am sorry to hear about your mother, Elisabeth. I am struck, again, by the starkness of your writing and by how much feeling and emotion and power are contained in so few words.

    As an aside, I've always thought sunflowers have faces like women.

    Reply

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